UMass Boston

Lorna Rivera

Leadership in Education
Director, Gaston Institute
Healey Library Floor 10

Areas of Expertise

Women's literacy, Feminist/critical pedagogies, Social welfare reform, Latina Studies, Race/ethnic/gender health disparities


PhD in Sociology. Northeastern University
Post Doc. National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation

Additional Information

Dr. Lorna Rivera is Director of the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development & Public Policy, and Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies & Latino Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.  Rivera has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Northeastern University.  Her research focuses on women’s and family literacy programs, social welfare reform policies, gender/racial/ethnic-based health disparities, and the education of Latinx students.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Laboring to Learn: Women’s Literacy & Poverty in the Post-Welfare Era (2008, University of Illinois Press).  Her recent publications include a Gaston Institute report “COVID-19 and Latinos in MA” (2020) and “The Impact and Outcomes of Integrating Health Literacy Education into Boston’s Adult Basic Education Programs” in Journal of Health Literacy Research and Practice (2019). Currently, Rivera is P.I. on three federally funded projects examining the impact of COVID-19 and Latinx and immigrant communities.  She is also Co-P.I. on the study, “Community-Driven Environmental Assessment” in Vieques, Puerto Rico.   Rivera oversees the Talented & Gifted (TAG) and Alerta afterschool programs for Latinx bilingual students in the Boston Public Schools.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the Hyde Square Task Force, an arts-based Afro-Latinx youth agency in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, and board member for the Inter-University Programs on Latino Research (IUPLR) in the US.   Rivera serves on the editorial board of Signs: Journal of Women & Culture in Society. 2019.  In 2019, Rivera was inducted as an Honorary Member of Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society. 

Current Research Activities 

“Rapid Cycle Quality Improvement Approaches for Developing the Capacity of Community-Based Organizations to Address COVID-19 and Cancer Disparities in Latinx Communities.”  PIs: Lorna Rivera and Jarvis Chen, Harvard School of Public Health.   Funded by U54 UMB Dana Farber Cancer Center Partnership and National Cancer Institutes.

“Boston Community Health Workers for COVID Response and Resilient Communities”(CCR).  Funded by Centers for Disease Control and Boston Public Health Commission.  Evaluation PIs: Lorna Rivera and Rudy Vega. 

“Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19.” Funded by Office of Minority Health. Boston Public Health Commission. Evaluation PIs:  Lorna Rivera and Carlos Eduardo Siqueira.

“Chelsea Workforce Development Action Plan”.  Funded by City of Chelsea, MA.  PIs: Lorna Rivera and Fabian Torres-Ardila.

“Community-Driven Assessment of Environmental Health Risks in Vieques, Puerto Rico.”  Funded by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States.  G19A112846250.  PI: Lorena Estrada-Martinez.  Co-PI: Lorna Rivera

“Talented & Gifted Latino Program & Proyecto Alerta” 5th Quarter Summer Learning Academy.  Funded by Boston Public Schools.  PI: Lorna Rivera

“Boston Through a Wider Lens: Advancing Ethnic Studies in Boston Public Schools”.  Funded by Mass Humanities Foundation and Boston Public Schools.   Co-PI: Lorna Rivera

Selected Publications 


Rivera, L. & M. Colon. (In progress, UMass Press) Critical Perspectives on Latino Education in Massachusetts.  

Rivera, L. (2008). Laboring to Learn: Women’s Literacy & Poverty in the Post-Welfare Era. University of Illinois Press.  Winner of 2009 Cyril O. Houle Award for Outstanding Literature.

Professional Reports  

Torres-Ardila, F., Rivera, Lorna; Rojas-Pion, C., Bravo, D. & Chavez, H. (2021) "Sustainable Pathways for Successful Small Businesses in Chelsea, Massachusetts".  Gaston Institute Publications.

Torres-Ardila, F., Bravo, D., Chavez, H., Rivera, L., (2020). "Towards a Workforce Development Action Plan in the City of Chelsea: Community Voices". Gastón Institute Publications.

J. Mutchler, C. Coyle, N. Velasco-Roldan, C. Woods, L. Rivera, P. Watanabe, & Q. Swan (2020). “Age Strong for All: Examining Aging Equity in the City of Boston”.  Gerontology Institute.

Rivera, L. & S. Manon. (2020). “Latinos & COVID-19 in Massachusetts.” El Sol Latino v16 n9.

Rivera, L., Granberry, P., Estrada-Martínez, L., Uriarte, M., Siqueira, E.,Linde-Arias, A., & Bacigalupe, G. (2020). "COVID-19 and Latinos in Massachusetts" (2020). Gastón Institute Publications. 253.

Rivera, L. (2019).  Latinos in Greater Boston: Migration, New Communities and the Challenge of Displacement. In Changing Faces of Greater Boston.  Schuster, et. al.  pp 51-60.  Boston Foundation.

Granberry, P., Mattos, T., and Rivera, L.  (2018). Communities in Peril: The Dispersion of Temporary Protected Status Populations throughout Massachusetts. Gastón Institute Publications.

Berardino, M., Mattos, T. and Rivera, L. (2016). How do Latino Students Fare in Massachusetts Charter Schools? An Analysis of Student Outcomes, Enrollment, Teacher Preparation, and Discipline Across Ten Districts.  Gastón Institute Publications.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles 

Hohn, M. & Rivera, L. (2019). “Results of a Two-Year Study: The Impact and Outcomes of Integrating Health Literacy Education into Boston’s Adult Basic Education Programs.” Journal of Health Literacy Research and Practice. 3(3 Suppl) S25-S32.

Saltmarsh, J. Warren, M. Krueger-Henney, P. Rivera,L., Fleming, R. Haig-Friedman, D. & M. Uriarte.(2015). “Creating an Academic Culture that Supports Community-Engaged Scholarship.”  Diversity & Democracy. V18 (1).

Fletcher,K., H.G. Prigerson, E. Paulk, J. Temel, E. Finlay, L. Marr, R. McCorkle, L. Rivera, F.Munoz, P. Maciejewski. (2013). “Gender Differences in the Evolution of Illness Understanding Among Patients with Advanced Cancer.”Journal of Supportive Oncology. v11(3):126-32.

Wright, A., H. Stieglitz, Y. Kupersztoch, M. Paulk, Y.Kim, I. Katz, F. Munoz, R. Jimenez, J. Mutchler, L. Rivera, A.Back, H. G. Prigerson. (2013). “United States Acculturation and Cancer Patients’ End-of-Life  Care.” PLoS ONE . v 8(3):e58663.

Jimenez R., B. Zhang, S. Joffe,M. Nilsson, L. Rivera. J. Mutchler, C. Lathan, E. Paulk, H.Prigerson. (2013). “Clinical Trial Participation among Ethnic/Racial Minority and Majority Patients with Advanced Cancer: What Factors Most Influence Enrollment?” Journa lof Palliative Medicine. v 16 (3): 1-8.

Balboni, T. A., Maciejewski, P. K., Balboni, M. J., Enzinger, A. C., Paulk, M. E., Munoz, F., L. Rivera (2013).  “Racial/Ethnic Differences in End-of-Life (EoL) Treatment Preferences: The Role of Religious Beliefs About Care.  ASCO Annual Meeting Proceedings. v31 (15): 6529.

Current Public and Community Service 

2020-present.  Member, Mass General Hospital, DoN Grants Allocation Committee.

2020-2021.  Appointed member, COVID-19 Health Inequalities Taskforce, City of Boston.

2019-2021.  Boston Public Schools, School Board Committee Member. Co-Chair.  English Learners Taskforce.

2018-present. Advisory Board.  Center to Support Immigrant Organizing.  

2017-present. Board of Directors.  Inter-University Programs on Latino Research (IUPLR) in U.S.  

2017-present. Board of Directors.  Hyde Square Task Force, Jamaica Plain, MA.